Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Word in Microsoft 365, and 2021. If you are using an earlier version (Word 2003 or earlier), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for earlier versions of Word, click here: Changing Tabs Using the Ruler.

Changing Tabs Using the Ruler

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated July 16, 2022)
This tip applies to Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Word in Microsoft 365, and 2021


Once tabs are set, they appear on the ruler, right under the measurement markings. You can quickly adjust tab stops by using your mouse to drag the markings to a new location on the ruler. Simply point to a tab stop marking with the mouse, click on the left mouse button, and drag the tab stop to a different location. Release the mouse button when you are satisfied with the new tab location. If you want to delete a tab, don't drag it to a new location—drag it entirely off the ruler instead.

There is one very interesting variation on this technique—you can hold down the Alt key as you drag the tab stop markings on the ruler. As you do, Word displays the exact distance of the tab stop from both the left and right margins of your paper. When the distances are as you want them, release the mouse button and the tab stop assumes that exact location.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (8929) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Word in Microsoft 365, and 2021. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Changing Tabs Using the Ruler.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

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